15 Ways to Make College More Affordable

Going to college is expensive, so many parents begin saving for their children’s education before they’re even born in a bid to make college more affordable when it’s time.

Unfortunately, even if parents save a little bit every month, they might still not have enough money to pay for their child’s four-year college education.

Many students try to work through college, making getting to class on time and finishing homework more difficult. 

Student loan debt is common, and it can be debilitating, especially for recent graduates who haven’t yet found their first jobs. Paired with high costs of living, recent graduates might get stuck living at home with their parents trying to pay off debts to find an affordable place to live.

While student loans might be a necessary evil to get an education, there are ways to make college more affordable. Here are some things students can do to save money on college and reduce student loans. 

The List of 8 Ways to Make College More Affordable

  • Take Advanced Classes in High School
  • Start at Community College
  • Go to College In-State
  • Live at Home
  • Apply for Financial Aid
  • Get a Job
  • Go to Trade School
  • Find the Right Student Loans
  • Target Specific Scholarships
  • Commute to School and Live at Home
  • Target Specific Scholarships
  • Spend Less on Textbooks
  • Opt Out of the Dining Plan
  • Share a Room

Take Advanced Classes in High School

Advanced Placement (AP) credits in high school may make college more affordable since colleges may count them towards the overall credit hours you need to graduate.

However, not all colleges will offer you credit for your advanced high school programs. Some colleges may also require you to get a certain score to gain credit. 

Your high school advisor should be able to help you determine which classes can count towards your total college credit to help you spend less on your studies overall.

Ultimately, the fewer credits you have to take in college, the less you’ll have to pay. Taking advanced classes in high school may also allow you to jump ahead in your studies so you don’t have to worry about as many core classes and can start taking credits that pertain to your major. 

Start at Community College

Many students spend a year or two at community college to take their core classes before applying to university because it can ultimately cut their college tuition in half.

Community college classes are much cheaper, and you’ll be able to transfer credits to a university and spend less on university costs since you won’t be spending your full four years there. 

Courses at community colleges are much more affordable than courses at universities, especially at the university you’re going to. Starting at community college doesn’t mean you can’t apply to a university and finish your degree there.

However, you’ll need to rely on learning how to manage your time and responsibilities like friends, family, and school, so you can be prepared for life on a university campus. 

Go to College In-State

Going to college in-state is much cheaper than going to college out of state. You can do a quick search online to compare the average in-state costs of college versus out-of-state to determine if staying closer to home is more affordable for you. 

Live at Home

If possible, consider commuting to school and living at home with your parents. While you might miss out on the dorm experience, you’ll also save a few thousand dollars until you’re able to afford your own place.

Living at home might be ideal for students who are more likely to get distracted by new friends and activities taking place on a college campus, so it might actually help you excel in your courses while you save a few bucks. 

Living at home while going to college has some challenges, though. First of all, your family is not going to understand your schedule even if they’ve gone to a university themselves. If you’re taking remote classes, try explaining to your family that it’s similar to homeschooling, so you must be able to focus. 

Apply for Financial Aid

Financial aid includes scholarships, grants, and federal student loans. If you perform well on your college admissions tests and keep a high GPA in high school, you’re more likely to get financial aid which can help you cut college costs.

Applying for financial aid early can give you enough time to fill out the applications and gather as much information as possible to help your chances of getting it. 

Opt Out of the Dining Plan

If you’re living off-campus and have a kitchen available to you, consider opting out of the meal plan offered by your school. 

Get a Job

Nobody wants to work their way through college because it means having less time to experience the college, meet new people, and focus on their classes.

However, getting a job in college can help you pay for all the things you need, such as books, course hours, and housing.

If you have scholarships, having a job can help you pay for other things, such as entertainment, which can help you deal with stressful classes. 

You can begin your job hunt by looking for jobs on campus offered through the college, or you can look around the campus at small businesses or local shops.

Once you’ve chosen your major, you can work with your advisor to find a small business internship that relates to the field you’re studying. 

Go to Trade School

Universities aren’t for everyone, especially if you’re interested in trades, such as becoming an electrician, carpenter, dental hygienist, or a variety of other high-paying, well-respected jobs that don’t require a four-year university degree.

Trade schools are typically cheaper than universities and take less time, so you can join the workforce quicker and start earning money. 

Commute to School and Live at Home

Room and Board is another major expense for students living away from home. If you are attending a school near your home, you could consider living with your family a bit longer. Living at home can help students save money

Spend Less on Textbooks

Maybe the most obvious option is to buy a used version of the textbook. This can help students cut costs and used books are often readily available at school bookstores or can be found online.

Some students may rent books. This is generally cheaper than buying a textbook, and when the class is done you can send the book back to the bookseller.

Find the Right Student Loans

Finding the right student loans is one of the best ways to make college more affordable.

Most students have to take out student loans to cover the cost of tuition and books. Federal student loans are the most common, but private student loans can be borrowed from lenders, such as banks and credit unions.

Universities might also offer their own loans. When evaluating your loan options, consider unsubsidized versus subsidized loans. 

With subsidized loans, the federal government will cover the interest accrued while you’re still in college, so you won’t have to start paying anything back until you leave school, whether by graduating or dropping out.

These loans also give you a grace period to allow you to find work before you have to start paying back the loan. If you’re going to get student loans, look for subsidized loans so you don’t have to worry about paying interest while you’re trying to focus on your studies. 

Target Specific Scholarships

Scholarships can be awarded by the school, or by corporations, nonprofits, or community organizations. Some scholarships are merit-based, while others may have non-academic criteria like a specific talent, heritage, gender, interest or field of study, or location.

There are websites, like FastWeb  and Scholarships.com  that aggregate information on scholarships.

Share a Room

You might be wondering, Is it cheaper to a dorm with a roommate?

Choosing to share a dorm room with a roommate can be pretty much easier on your wallet.

Even though most colleges and universities have their own dorm room rates, you will likely find cheaper yearly rates for double rooms, compared to single rooms, when they’re occupied by two people.


College costs money, but there are some ways to reduce your burden so you can focus on your studies while making your career goals achievable.

It’s typically best to start saving for college as soon as possible, but even if you don’t, you can start working and going to a community college until you save up enough to cover your university degree. 

Let us know what you think about these 8 ways how to make college more affordable.

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